Lawrence S. Ritter, a professor of economics, has collected in The Glory of Their limes (Macmillan, $7.95) the accounts of 22 eminent ballplayers discussing their careers. The result is entertaining baseball lore, perhaps less weighted with significance than Dr. Ritter's preface asserts. "There was very little drinking in baseball in those days," said Rube Marquard, who never took a drink. Said Smoky Joe Wood, who won 37 and lost six games in 1912: "I was 22 years old, that's all." Sometimes the tape-recorded comments seem repetitive, as if all the players answered the same questions, but the good sense and good nature of most of the contributors—especially Wahoo Sam Crawford, Lefty O'Doul and Harry Hooper—make the book a durable contribution to popular history.
When the New York legislature set aside the Forest Preserve in 1885, it was stipulated that the land was to be kept forever wild, but since the state did not acquire all the land within the Preserve, the result was a patchwork of wilderness tracts alternating with crowded, privately owned resorts. Forever Wild: the Adirondacks (Harper & Row, $20) is a gallant effort to make the scenic best of the wild areas. It consists of 82 magnificent color photographs by Eliot Porter and a two-page introduction that notes New York State owns only 2.2 million acres of the Adirondack Park's 5.7 million acres. But the brilliant closeups of rocks, lakes and cascading streams dramatize the treasure of natural wonders that the State has somehow managed to retain.
Government publications are usually printed with so little concern for appearance that Birds in Our Lives (Government Printing Office, $9) is doubly welcome: it is a handsome book, and it is also good reading. A joint product of the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife, the book's 54 chapters sum up recent findings in migration, bird photography, the annual Christmas bird count—even new stamps carrying pictures of birds—by experts in each field. This much information about birds is a little overpowering, but the tone of the book, at once informal and authoritative, is just right for casual reading.
Audubon's original watercolors for The Birds of America (American Heritage, distributed by Houghton Mifflin, $75) have been reproduced in a sumptuous two-volume work of 431 plates and 852 pages. Previous reproductions of Audubon's birds have been made from the engravings in the Elephant Folio of 140 years ago. Those in this book are so much brighter and bolder—and testify so vividly to Audubon's tireless inventiveness and audacity—that they constitute a rediscovery of his genius. It is difficult to think of a more beautiful book on birds or, for that matter, on natural history.
November 28, 1966
The Treasury of Horses by Walter D. Osborne and Patricia H. Johnson (Golden Press, $14.95) is designed with large, widely spaced text, a gift in itself to all myopic refugees from paperback print. The publisher offers "a concise, not overly technical discussion of our essential knowledge of horses today." This simple statement tends to dismiss the thoroughness of the author's research but somehow reflects the affection for horseflesh with which the book is presented. All breeds, from the classic Arabian right down to the "heavy horse" of America's farms, have been photographed in color.
Highlighted by nearly 500 photographs, 150 of them in color, Yankee Nomad by David Douglas Duncan (Holt, Rinehart and Winston, $23) is the odyssey of a photo journalist—from Kansas City to the ends of the earth. Sights along the way include sheep with blue wool in Ireland, monstrous sea animals off South America, a jamboree of horses in Afghanistan, and many of the human faces that have made history in the last generation. The text is warmly autobiographical.
For the expert yachtsman with a yen to modify, design or simply learn more about boats, The Proper Yacht by Arthur Beiser (Macmillan, $10.95) includes a boat-by-boat analysis of a whole fleet of sloops, yawls, ketches, cutters and schooners—complete with photographs of the boats in action, plans, cabin layouts and details of construction.
In The Picture Story of World Sports Cars (distributed by Sportshelf, P.O. Box 634, New Rochelle, N.Y., $4.25) Stuart Seager has outlined the evolution of sports cars from the German 28-hp Canstatt-Daimler of 1899 to the Rover-BRM or Rover jet car of the future. Well-defined illustrations are in black and white.
From ancient times, when the yo-yo was used in the Far East and the Philippines as a lethal weapon, to our modern times of the miniature Atlas booster, A History of Toys by Antonia Fraser (Delacorte Press, $22.50), explores the where, when and why of the world's playthings, from rattles to rockets. The hula hoop, for example, goes back to the Greeks; knucklebones (jacks) were popular with the Romans. The book is beautifully illustrated.